These are the first things to greet me at the start of this week’s episode. JC Stuff clearly knows not to bite the hand that feeds them.
— But Meat Master decides against repping AMURICA, and opts for this bikini top instead. I think it’s like how putting flames on cars will increase its speed.
— Soma is one of those boring shounen heroes that don’t have any weaknesses. He’s supposedly here to learn, but he’s likely one of the best cooks at this school already. He’s “untrained,” but in actuality, he probably has all of the classic French techniques in his arsenal. He just doesn’t know it yet! And naturally, nothing phases him. Not even cooking in front of an entire stadium full of people. Why? Because he’s cooked for actual customers, man! Gosh, when you put it that way…
— But more on the serious side, culinary school is there to help you gain a solid foundation. You’ll learn basic techniques, basic food theory and science, so on and so forth. Someone like Soma would stand to benefit more by actually entering a real kitchen. But wait, didn’t he already cook in a real kitchen with his father?! Yeah, he did, but you could then go to another kitchen and see how other people get the job done.
For example, Gordon Ramsay cooked for a longtime under Marco Pierre White, but the latter eventually sent his pupil to France. There, Ramsay worked the line for the likes of Guy Savoy and Joel Robuchon. The latter is considered the Chef of the Century. Anyway, that’s how you would normally do it for someone with Soma’s skill level. And of course, even though women are getting more and more acclaim in the culinary world every year, the food industry is pretty male-dominated. In other words, it’s unlikely Soma would run into any cute line cooks had he actually taken the more realistic route. But this is anime, so the story has to take place in a high school, and we’re going to surround our hero with hot babes, and the show will eventually turn into a harem.
— Oh, don’t you worry your pretty lil’ heads. This will be a harem soon enough. It’s just the natural order of things. The law of the universe, if you will. With enough time, every series eventually devolves into a harem anime. It’s like entropy or some shit.
— Anyway, weaknesses create drama, but of course, we’re not here for drama. In fact, I suspect the story’s creator is cutting his losses. He knows where his own personal strengths and weaknesses lie. As such, why bother with drama if it’s not your forte? As such, we get ridiculous analogies and rampant fanservice. That’s why it’s ultimately predictable that Soma will defeat his opponent easily. He’s not really the star of the show.
— This girl will be hosting today’s festivities. I’m only highlighting her because she might be a recurring character later on? Shrug. One thing for sure, she’s just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.
— The audience has some choice words for Soma when he enters the arena. Wow, guys, calm down! It’s just food!
— I’d say it’s a safety hazard for Meat Master to cook in that outfit, especially since she’ll be searing her meat later on. How do I know? C’mon, you gotta sear meat, and as such, a lot of hot fluids will be involved.
— Anyway, not that it matters to this anime or its target audience, but you actually get kicked out of a kitchen for simply not wearing proper shoes. C’mon, it’s a high pressure job with a ton of time constraints. Lots of time, you have to be running in the kitchen without actually running. The last thing that the head chef needs from you is inappropriate shoes. So needless to say, Meat Master is already failing in that department, but again, we’re not here for actual food facts.
— Erina shows up to see if her minion can get the job done and thereby humiliate Soma.
— This is like a prime opportunity for a doujinshi to enlighten the Meat Master on what is truly the ultimate meat.
— Our Meat Master then proceeds to butcher her A5 wagyu beef with a cleaver, ’cause, like, she’s just that good. But of course, if you’re a real expert, wouldn’t you also know to use the right tool for the job?
— She then sniffs the aged beef and revels in its slightly sweet smell. I assume the beef is dry aged. What’s the purpose of dry-aging the beef? It’s kind of like with cheese, really. Yeah, yeah, enzymatic action will tenderize the beef, and dry-aging will improve the meat’s texture. But it’s really all about oxidizing the fat, which will allow the beef to take on some interesting flavors. Would I call it sweet smelling? Well, maybe. It depends on how long this cut of meat was aged. I don’t remember if the show ever specified that. But obviously, the longer you dry-age the meat, the funkier it will smell, and… that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s like how some people love funky cheeses and some people don’t. Dry-aging the beef isn’t a guarantee that it’ll taste better, but most people will agree that at least two weeks is the key. That’s because the texture will improve dramatically, I suspect. After two weeks, though, it’s really a toss-up. I’ve had some cuts that were aged for over 40 days… I wouldn’t say that it was my favorite.
— Anyway, Meat Master proceeds to sear the whole thing in a pan with butter in order to “seal in the juices.” Nah. You sear the beef because the caramelization makes it taste awesome. Maillard reaction or whatever. Searing the beef won’t actually seal the juices in or anything. C’mon, Meat Master… you should know that.
— Meanwhile, Soma trots out his cheap cut of meat. It’s like the classic underdog story! For some reason, however, simply using a cheap cut of meat causes the audience to jeer and throw things at the stage. I thought most of the students here come from rich families, but it’s clear that wealth doesn’t teach you any manners.
— In any case, it’s all relative anyway. I’d love to even sit down to a cheap supermarket steak right now.
— Meat Master pulls her roast out and… uh, it doesn’t look very nice. But she then shows off her next special power: the ability to gauge the temperature of her meat with just her lips! She’s content with 65 degrees Celsius. Hm, wouldn’t that give you a medium temperature? Sorry, but if you’ve got A5 wagyu beef, medium is overcooking it…
— She then tries to taunt Soma, but he simply tosses his sauteed onions without a care in the world. The smell of the onions alone somehow causes Meat Master to double over and squeeze her boobs together. Magical onions! And here I thought eating alliums would just make you smell and turn girls off.
— It’s time to present their dishes!
Uh, really? That brings to mind unsavory images of meat curtains… plus, those garnishes on the rim of the bowl are really fucking tacky and outdated. It’s so 1980’s! Yeah, there are food trends, and some things do go out of style much like flared trousers did in the fashion world. Of course, I know that the average person wouldn’t openly care whether or not there were garnishes on the rim of a bowl or plate, but… hey, I’m just giving you guys an extra perspective.
— The idea is that it serves no purpose. Is anyone going to pick those sprigs of… what are those, anyway? Basil? Anyway, is anyone going to pick up the sprigs of basil and munch on them? Or even scoop of that… sauce to eat? So no, it’s just superfluous and a waste of food. Plus, it just looks better. Less messy. The focus is on the actual food in the middle, not the bits and bobs of crap on the side. Visuals do matter. Like I said in last week’s post, all the tiny details matter in the world of fine dining, and plating plays a key role. Then again, if you’re the sort to shape an actual flower out of beef strips, you probably wouldn’t care how the plating look anyway. I mean, you don’t have to agree. Sometimes, I just want to sit down to a messy burger. But I can also appreciate the effort in haute cuisine.
— So now it’s Soma’s turn to show the goods:
Needless to say, the judges love his bowl more. But of course! He actually showed technique! He actually added flavor instead of just searing his steak in butter and calling it a day. What was Meat Master’s dish? Literally a mountain of beef, rice and garlic. And some butter, I guess. Four fucking ingredients (we don’t count salt and pepper). Meanwhile, our hero added red wine to the sauce, deepened the flavor by slightly burning soy sauce, something about potato starch being thrown in there too… the dude actually cooked. Even if the two dishes had tasted exactly equal in flavor — and I don’t even know how you would judge that — any judge with half a brain would give the win to Soma. Meat Master didn’t actually do anything. There’s a certain simplicity to just letting the ingredients speak for themselves, and I imagine Soma’s dish would’ve tasted even better with wagyu beef — c’mon, it’s wagyu beef — but beef and rice, man.
— In fact, Meat Master’s reaction kind of says it all, really. There’s an actual position in restaurants for people who make sauces: saucier. Surprising name, huh? But sauces are that important. So important that the saucier is considered one of the more important positions on the line.
— Apparently, the thing that really put Soma over the top was the pickled plum paste that he mixed into the rice. I imagine the slight acidity really helps when you’re eating mountains of rich beef and onions. It also reminds me of how you want to season with vinegar. There are two common mistakes that people make in cooking. First, they don’t know how to use salt properly. Second, they don’t use enough acids. People are always surprised when they hear that, for example, a stew or soup just needs a good amount of vinegar. Ugh, vinegar! Won’t that make everything taste vinegary? Nah. Like salt, the proper amount does the trick. If you use the right amount of salt, the dish shouldn’t taste salty. It should just taste right. Likewise, a small amount of vinegar really enhances sauces. Well, Soma didn’t use vinegar here, but the pickled plum likely adds as a good counterbalance to all of the other flavors. Just more food facts…
— Anyway, Meat Master tries Soma’s bowl for herself, and she also gets sent back in time to when she used to wear more clothes. For some reason, however, her dad didn’t want her to be lady-like, ’cause ladies aren’t strong or something? Not that I’m a fan of her or anything, but Thatcher would like to have a word with him. In any case, Soma’s bowl of rice and beef somehow convinces Meat Master to just be…
…herself… covered in a mountain of greasy, salty onions. Yeah.
— She also blushes when he said that her name was cute. And it begins…
— Here’s a tip for Meat Master: just give Soma some soma, and he’ll be as good as yours. I mean, it worked in this other anime…
— After the credits, Meat Master pretends as though she’s not excited to be in the same club as Soma, but as it turns out, the guy didn’t want to join it anyway. Whoops. Doesn’t matter, though. He gained a haremette for life, and that’s the key to life right there.
— Anyway, tune in next time for more unnecessary food facts.